Pumpkins and Parenting

September 22, 2022 | Melissa Riggs

I don’t often travel without Jim, but when I do, I generally know I’ll come home to something new. A few years ago, I went away on a retreat or girls’ weekend, and when I came home, I discovered that Jim had started composting! I don’t know what the catalyst was, but we had a container in the kitchen and a compost bin outside the back door where we could empty the kitchen bin. I was less than thrilled.  

Over time I did get used to the convenience of opening the back door to dump banana peels, though. I eventually began tossing vegetables past their prime, dead flowers from the dining room table, and other kitchen refuse. In fact, I will admit that I have even started to like the bin, knowing that items would break down and return to the earth.  

One day a few months ago I looked out and noticed something large and green tumbling out of the compost bin. The kids and I watched each week with fascination as the leaves grew larger and started spreading across the lawn. I checked on the plant periodically, and although there were plenty of orange flowers and lots of giant leaves, there was nothing growing... until a few weeks ago. That day, when I went outside to check, there was one small green pumpkin growing under the protection of a giant leaf. I couldn’t believe it! I called the kids to come look, took photos, and even beckoned my neighbor to come and see. Who knew that last year’s decorative pumpkin, tossed in a heap of trash, could bring about new life? 

I had so many questions about the pumpkin: How big would it get? Was it getting enough sunlight? What kind of pumpkin was it? Were the leaves wilting? Did it need water?  

I had never cared before about growing pumpkins, and I don’t know a thing about gardening, but suddenly I wanted to learn. I needed to learn. I felt fiercely protective and captivated by this tiny little pumpkin. And it struck me: This little pumpkin was a metaphor for parenting. 

As brand new parents, we stand in awe of the wondrous thing God has brought about through us. The Bible says they are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). We take photos and celebrate, inviting others to see and hold this incredible small human. And then, almost instantly, we have questions and must begin learning. How do I get him to eat? How do I bathe a squirmy, wet infant? Is he hot? Is she hungry? What should we do about a fever? When do we call a doctor?  

We don’t know all of these things naturally. We have to learn them. Some things are taught by nurses in the hospital, others are modeled by more experienced parents, and still others are learned from books or articles. And, of course, the process doesn’t end with infancy. We become parents for a lifetime and the questions don’t stop, but do we keep pursuing knowledge the way we did in the beginning? Do we pour the same effort into learning how to deal with our moody teenager that we invested in learning how to soothe a teething baby, or do we just coast and hope it all works out? How about teaching our children to love Jesus, the most important task any of us will ever have as parents? Are we as intentional in learning about how to do that well as we were in learning basic parenting skills when our kids were born? 

The good news is that every day is a new opportunity to learn how to be a more effective parent, and we have resources at our fingertips. We have the Bible, articles, books, and each other. We say, “together is better,” but do we really live like it? Do we seek counsel, pray with others for our children, and ask for help from other believers? Do we actually partner with the church in teaching our kids, or do we each do our own thing, fumbling and bumbling on our own? 

On Tuesday, September 27th, we will have a Boro Parent Meeting. This is a chance to learn about what the kids do each week in the Boro and how we can link arms to point our kids to Jesus. It is also an opportunity to discuss the vision and mission of Fellowship Children’s Ministry and talk to other parents about what they do and why. Please join us. You can register here. 

Every one of us can grow in our ability to parent. Some of us have more experience than others, but no one is a perfect parent except our heavenly Father. He wants to help us. He cares even more about our children than we do. What are we going to do today to strengthen our parenting muscles?